Buying Whole Foods Gift cards at a discount

It's easy to make fun of Whole Foods Market, which really doesn't do anything to shed its nickname of Whole Paycheck.  What makes it worse is that they often say and do things that make it clear that they themselves think they're overpriced, whether it's launching a new store with lower prices (um, how about just lowering prices in your current stores?) or just admitting to Wall Street that its prices are too high (oops).

So how to justify shopping there?  How about getting a discount on gift cards?
  • Easy: You might have a special credit card that rebates you 5% or even 6% on groceries.  Best bet?  Perhaps the Amex Blue Cash Preferred card, which pays you back 6% on the first $6,000 at any grocer.
  • Harder: Maybe combine that credit card with the "auto-reload" feature on its gift cards, which promise 10% back on your first reload with diminishing returns on subsequent loads.
  • Hardest: The best discount is to acquire frequent flier miles by buying e-gift cards at Staples.  Each mile should be worth 1.5 to 2 cents (providing you can find a seat).
How does that work?  Well, Staples advertises through several shopping portals, including many of the airline shopping portals that are run by Cartera such as Alaska's, United's, American's, and Southwest's.  Physical gift cards don't earn miles, but e-gift cards usually do from Cartera portals despite terms that say they aren't supposed to.  So, combine the following 3 discounts:
  1. Credit card: Chase's Ink card gives you 5 Ultimate rewards points per dollar spent at Staples.
  2. Airline shopping portal: Earn 2-5 miles back (look for frequent earning bonuses by checking out Cashback Monitor).  Hint: United is offering 4 miles back right now.
  3. Airline shopping portal bonus: During certain times of the year, the above portals pay out bonuses for hitting a certain amount of spending through their portal.  That is an additional 2-4 miles per dollar.  Right now, for the back-to-school shopping season, many Cartera portals are offering bonuses including: United, AmericanSouthwest!
The haul?  5 + 4-ish + 4-ish = ~13 miles per dollar you spend at Whole Foods.  That should be worth at least 1.5 cents per mile, or ~20% back in airline travel for every dollar you spend at Whole Foods!

And it doesn't end there...how about other e-gift cards?  Why not EARN 13 MILES PER DOLLAR ON EVERYTHING YOU BUY!  Staples carries e-gift cards from:
  • Target
  • eBay
  • Home Depot
  • Lowes
  • Gamestop (if you find a store that does it, you can buy Amazon gift cards with these!)
  • ...
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The Bank of America trifecta - earn 2.63% cashback plus $1075 in account bonuses to start

Update: I was wrong about two things related to the BofA Travel Rewards card: 1) unlike the BofA Cash Rewards card, the Travel Rewards can only be redeemed toward travel charges made on the BofA Travel Rewards card, unless you have a BofA Fidelity card, in which case you can transfer the points earned to the Fidelity card and then redeem for cash into your Fidelity brokerage account, and 2) unlike the Cash rewards card, the 10% bonus on deposits to your checking account do not apply, because you can't transfer the points to cash in your checking account.  2.63% toward travel isn't bad, though.  And what's more, is that like Citi's credit cards, you can pay your BofA credit card balance with a debit card by calling 888-998-2829 (collections department).  So if you have a rewards debit card that pays you 1% back (hard but not impossible to find these days), you can theoretically earn 3.63% back!

Road to riches via manufactured spending

Do you have $100,000 in cash under your mattress?  No?  I am a little disappointed, because you could have earned this sum by following some of my past advice in buying Visa gift cards and liquidating them.  With the right credit card, each of the following cards earned me ~$20.


Credit card glory

Okay then, do you have $100,000 in your IRA?  If yes, you can take advantage of Bank of America's relatively new Preferred Rewards program.  In the program, you can earn bonuses for keeping money at Bank of America, including its subsidiary Merrill Lynch.  These bonuses include (in order of importance to me):
  • 75% bonus on credit card rewards
  • free investment trades every month
  • waived monthly bank account fees
The first of those is the most important.  You see, Bank of America has some credit cards that pay you 3% back in certain categories.  That translates into 5.25% back.  If you don't care to hustle around and buy gift cards at 7-Eleven, then you won't get as fat a bonus, but you can get 2.63%2.89% back on everything you buy.  So consider paying those pesky convenience fees for your income or property taxes, paying 1.88% or 2.35% and earning 2.63%2.89%!  I like those numbers!

How to earn 2.89%?  Bank of America has a Travel Rewards credit card that earns 1.5 Worldpoints (i.e. 1.5% cash back) for all amounts spent on it.  Multiply that by 1.75x, and you get 2.625% cash back.  Wait a minute, you say.  That's not 2.89% back.  You're right, because there is another bonus which is if you redeem your points for cashback that is directly deposited into your Bank of America checking account, you get an additional 10% back, so you really earn 2.8875% cash back on everything!

Alternatively, you can get the Cash Rewards credit card, which earns
  • 3% (5.775% with multipliers!) back at the gas station
  • 2% (3.85% with multipliers) back at grocery stores, and
  • 1% (1.925% with multipliers) back on everything else.
The only downside is that the bonus categories (gas & groceries) is limited to a bonus on $1,500 per quarter, which puts a serious crimp in my get rich quick schemes.

$1,075 to start!

There are nearly always account opening bonuses on all three accounts: brokerage, checking, and credit card.  These will add up to $1,075 if you apply in the right sequence and take advantage of a current checking account promotion:

  • $300 for opening a checking account (expires April 10, and note the direct deposit requirement and service fees, which will get waived if you keep a certain balance and waived permanently once you qualify for a Preferred Rewards tier)
  • $600 for depositing/transferring $200,000 of securities ($300 for $100,000)
  • $100 for opening a Bank of America credit card, which will get bonused up into $175 only after your 3-month average BofA balance has reached $100,000 and you redeem into a checking account.  You will need to wait about 1.5 months for this to happen if you deposit $200,000.
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Get 25% off your physical book purchase at Amazon

(expires December 14 at midnight PST)

Amazon has a pretty amazing deal for your next book purchase. By using promo code BOOKDEAL25, you can get 25% off your purchase of a physical book (up to $10 off)!
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$100 off 2-night hotel stay with Orbitz

If you missed the $100 off any stay from last week, here's your chance to book a hotel stay (this time with a 2-night minimum) using Visa Checkout and get $100 off.
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Macy's Friends and Family Sale on through Monday

Macy's has its twice yearly friends and family sale through December 8. Get 25% off a wide variety of items using promo code FRIEND online or use a printable coupon.

An even better deal could be this $10 off $25 coupon good for just Saturday.
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Get $100 off your next hotel booking

(SOLD OUT! originally it was supposed to expire December 8)

Orbitz is offering $100 off $100 or more on your next hotel booking using promo code VISACHECKOUT and selecting Visa Checkout as your method of payment. Visa Checkout verifies your payment directly through your credit card login instead of using the merchant's payment system. Valid for hotel stays through June 30, 2015.

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Hand-picked coupons

Home Depot: 10% off
(unknown expiration)

Lowes: 10% off
(unknown expiration)

Lowes.com: 10% off
(unknown expiration, code: MOVER10)

Lowes.com: $10 off $50
(unknown expiration, code: LOWES50)

About Rob Deals

My name is Robert. Really. My site is dedicated to helping you find "Rob Deals" -- deals that make retailers feel robbed. My job as a consultant involves helping companies sell more stuff. This site helps me make amends for working for the dark side.

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